The Nigeria Union of Teachers has warned state governments against the retrenchment of teachers and reduction of their emoluments due to economic recession.
Michael Olukoya, the NUT National President, gave the warning at the celebration of the 2016 World Teachers day on Wednesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme for this year’s celebration is “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”.
Mr. Olukoya, at an event organised by the union to honour teachers for their role in development, described the plan to retrench teachers as misplaced.
He said that said such act would jeopardise the progress of public education and the future of the Nigerian child.
He also advised state governments to be alive to their responsibility of managing basic education.
“We demand that state governments should appreciate and take up their constitutional responsibility of providing and maintaining primary education and the provision of funds for payment of teachers salaries in line with the 2002 Supreme Court judgment.
“State governments should avoid promoting privatisation and commercialisation of education especially at the primary and secondary school levels under the guise of seeking higher standard of education through the hand-over of schools to voluntary agencies.”
He also urged the Federal Government to increase the retirement age of basic education teachers from 60 years to 65 years, adding that lecturers at higher institutions were already benefitting.
The National President noted that for the government to effectively fight corruption, salaries and pension owed teachers should be paid urgently.
“The NUT demands that all tiers of government should, as a matter of urgency, pay up all salaries owed teachers of primary and secondary schools in the federation.
“The union calls on governments to see to the plight of retired teachers and pay their retirement benefits in order that the labour of these veterans will not be in vain.
“If we want to clear our society, government should not make retirees regret their honesty while in office.”
In his address, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, condemned the non-payment of teachers’ salary and retirement benefits by state governments.
Mr. Wabba added that any policy not focusing on teachers will not succeed as they have play significant roles in educating Nigerians.
“Knowledge is what drives development today; why should education be so expensive and commercialised, when most of our leaders today benefitted from public schools, free education, bursaries and various scholarships.
“The best way out of poverty is to educate the children of the poor and if this is not addressed, the country will not move forward.
“We offer our full support to NUT in pursuing their demands and we will jointly succeed in our endeavour,’’ the NLC president said.